The Palestinian intellectual and former member of the Knesset, Azmi Bishara, who has been forced to live in exile since 2007, challenges those who find fault with Syria’s revolutionaries:
Those who abandoned the revolutionaries at their time of need have no right to lecture them on who their sources of support are, especially if nobody is able to persuade the regime to carry out any kind of meaningful process of reform towards democracy, or even to hand over power gradually.
There is no fault in the people seeking their own dignity and freedom; there is no sin for those youth who have taken up arms in the face of the regime’s barbarity. The only culprit here is the regime. Writing off the earliest protests as a foreign conspiracy, and dismissing Arab diplomatic moves for a gradual transfer of power — such as the now seemingly fanciful August, 2011 plan for a National Unity Government which would usher in Presidential elections in 2014, and a January, 2012 plan for power to be handed over to the Vice-President — this regime refused them all. None of these proposals ever sought to undo Syria’s army, or to undermine the army’s morale.
The duty of the revolution’s leadership and the political opposition at this point is to remain vigilant with regards to those powers which are supporting their efforts, and the political ends for which they do this. It falls on this revolutionary leadership to preserve the sovereignty and identity of Syria, preventing foreign support for their revolution from turning into a bridgehead for those foreign powers’ ulterior plans.
In spite of all of the above, I can understand the confusion and anguish felt by a wide number of Arab patriots about the events presently unfolding in Syria. It is not only the anguish shared by those who are shocked by the fate of large swathes of this part of the Arab homeland, at the way the regime has chosen to go with the Samson option, but rather a more nuanced, political anguish. Looking at those states which presently support the Syrian revolution, or at least claim to, one can see countries which have never been democratic, and have in fact stood in the way of all of the other Arab revolutions. Doubtlessly, these states are doing so for an entirely different set of reasons: Syria’s foreign policy and the country’s long-standing support for the resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon. The use of sectarianism to fan the flames of the revolution are also here, deeply troubling: in our part of the world, sectarianism is not only disgusting, it is deadly. Yet no matter how anguished and confused an outside observer feels on these issues, anguish and confusion cannot be the policy of the Syrian people, and the Syrian revolution. The Syrian people are not an outside observer, they must choose between either moving forward, or falling back and having to deal with an emboldened, despicable new set of thugs. The Syrian people cannot afford to fret over the identity of those supporting their revolution, their only worries are about the limited number of those supporters, and the limited, cautious nature of that support.